No swimming in 'Sacred Pools,' and other updates.

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It’s been a big year for hurricanes in the Pacific, and Hawaii has had its share of close encounters, but once again it has dodged the big winds, as Hurricane Olaf this week veered away instead of toward the islands.

Olaf is the 15th tropical cyclone in the Central Pacific in 2015, surpassing the previous record of 11 in 1992 and 1994. It is also the eighth hurricane in the Central Pacific this season, topping the previous record of five in 1994.

 Looking out toward Lanai from West Maui today, surf on the west side of the island is relatively mild, though big waves are forecast for eastern and southern shores.

I’m on Maui for a week of reporting for upcoming travel stories you’ll see in The Seattle Times. I spent two nights earlier this week around Hana, on the jungle-like eastern shore of Maui. A few quick items of news to report for Maui-bound travelers:

The misnamed Seven Sacred Pools

Don’t expect an idyllic swim in the so-called Seven Sacred Pools, more properly called the ‘Ohe’o Pools, in Haleakala National Park, south of Hana. The pools, which number more than seven and were given the “sacred” name as a tourism promotion rather than from any special significance to local people, have been closed to swimmers since early August because of the theft of monitoring equipment that warned of flash floods. Hiking trails along the Ohe’o Gulch remain open. (Park admission is now $15, valid for three days.) Meanwhile, swimming opportunities abound at the base of waterfalls all along the Hana Highway; Wailua Falls is a particularly popular spot, with lots of parking. (Hazards include possible exposure to bacteria that cause leptospirosis.)

Lindbergh’s grave

For now, don’t expect a look inside the church where historic aviator Charles Lindbergh is buried, just about a mile down the road from the ‘Ohe’o Pools. The scenic little Palapala Ho’omau Church, hidden off the road in a peaceful setting above the sea, is closed for renovation. That has involved “replacing just about every piece of wood in the building,” a church member told me — including a new roof, new floor and roof joists. Dry rot and termite damage was severe in the 1864 structure. Some of the renovation costs have been borne by a trust fund set aside by Lindbergh’s heirs, and locals continue fundraising efforts. Hopes are for the church to be ready for Christmas services; the public is welcome to attend. Meanwhile, you can still visit Lindbergh’s modest gravesite at the far corner of a cemetery behind the church. He died on Maui in 1974.

Hana hotel renovation

Restoration is also underway at Hana’s one resort hotel, now called the Travaasa Hana. A $12 million guest-room restoration is the first significant work done in decades at the iconic resort, Maui’s first (dating back to 1946). All 70 rooms are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Red Sand Beach

Tourism authorities are discouraging visits t0 Red Sand Beach, near Hana, because of difficult access that continues to result in injury to visitors.